Obama, McCain spar over pigs and lipstick

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The theme song for Day 55 on the campaign trail is Mockingbird (we'd prefer, incidentally, the Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels version please).

Why?  Well, there's a lot of mockery going on today.  Of course standard fare during campaigns.  Candidates make fun of their opponents for comedic effect, clarification, to make a point and to provide sound bites that the disliked media will undoubtedly report on.

Processed pork

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The point Barack Obama was making today is that John McCain is not about change.  Rather he and running mate Sarah Palin are about more of the same - no matter how they package it.

"You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," Obama said.  "You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called 'change,' it's still going to stink."

Foul ball

The McCain team is saying that's mockery gone too far.  They say Obama called Palin a pig - drawing a parallel to Palin's well-used remark that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick.

"It's clear to me -- as I'm sure it will be to fair-minded Republicans, Democrats and independents across the country -- that Senator Obama owes Governor Palin an apology," said former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift, the chair of the newly formed "Palin truth squad."

Not so says the Obama folks.  It is a well-used phrase they say.

Everyone says it

In fact, you can Google it.  Exhibit number one comes from Vice President Dick Cheney four years ago - also on the campaign trail.

 "As we say in Wyoming, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," quipped Vice President Dick Cheney in a stump speech yesterday, with reference to John Kerry's claims he would be a credible war president.

 Exhibit number two comes special delivery from the Obama campaign pointing out that Senator McCain himself used this phrase almost a year ago describing Hillary Clinton's health care plan.

"I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," he said of her proposal.

And exhibit number three comes from the always-reliable Marc Ambinder over at The Atlantic.  Obama has used this phrase before as well.

'I think that both General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are capable people who have been given an impossible assignment,' Sen. Barack Obama said yesterday in a telephone interview. 'George Bush has given a mission to General Petraeus, and he has done his best to try to figure out how to put lipstick on a pig.

It's unlikely that "lipstick-pig-gate" will get much traction (although it would be fun to continue to say lipstick-pig-gate), but the battle over who is the true "agent-of-change" will undoubtedly continue.

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